Nevertheless, I Persisted: Robin’s Inspiring Success Story
When Robin was just three years old, her mother’s substance use led to her and her siblings being placed in foster care for their safety. This began a long and difficult road for Robin. She was adopted, but the family was not able to stay together. Despite many heartbreaking experiences, her KVC case workers were a consistent support to her. She was also inspired by an adult role model in her life, a single mom who was a nurse. Read how Robin took control of her destiny, choosing to defy the statistics about children in foster care rather than be defined by them.
Robin’s Early Childhood and Adoption
In 1988, Robin was born in the historic city of Philadelphia. She was the youngest of four children at the time. But Robin’s time with her mother and siblings was short-lived. Her mother struggled with substance use, putting the family on the radar of child welfare professionals.
Decades later, in 2017, advocacy by nonprofits including KVC and others led to the passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act. This federal law allocates millions of dollars to mental health and substance use treatment services to help families like Robin’s remain safely together. But in the 1990s, very little funding and programming existed for foster care prevention.
At the age of three, Robin and her siblings were removed from their mother’s custody for their own safety. They were placed in foster care.
Robin and her brother closest in age to her were cared for by a foster family. Robin recalls she was very close with her foster father but did not have a good relationship with her foster mother. Her foster mother used the possibility of adoption as a discipline tool, promising to reward the kids with adoption for good behavior and threatening to not adopt them as a punishment if the kids behaved badly.
Eventually, the couple finalized their adoption of Robin and her brother. Yet the comments had been hurtful and confusing. Deep down, Robin knew that all children deserve a loving family regardless of their behavior. But the experiences planted seeds of doubt about her own worth.
Robin’s Family Moves to Kansas
Tragically, there was more turbulence ahead. Robin’s adoptive father contracted Hepatitis C before it was curable. He desperately needed a liver transplant, and moving to Kansas gave him a better chance of receiving one.
“I had only heard about Kansas from the Wizard of Oz,” said Robin. “We moved to Leavenworth, Kansas when I was 12 years old.” As a Black girl in a white adoptive family and new, small town, “I definitely had culture shock,” she said.
The cross-country move, her father’s serious health problems, and regular marriage and family challenges put immense stress on the family. Her father received the liver transplant but remained very sick. Due to bullying at school, Robin started skipping school, getting in trouble for truancy. Her parents separated, and her father moved back east when she was 13 years old, leaving Robin with the adoptive mother who didn’t treat her well.
Robin Reenters Foster Care as a Teen
“[My adoptive mom] would kick me out of the house, then call me in as a runaway. I was so angry,” said Robin. Her adoptive father said he was coming back for Robin and would get a lawyer. But meanwhile, time was ticking by.
Robin clearly remembers that night of reentering foster care. Though she was experiencing a nightmare and crying, a KVC worker sat with her, was kind, and even made her smile. She said she would check on Robin the next day, and she did.
Her KVC caseworkers were a consistent, encouraging presence in her life. One woman was her caseworker for two years.
“My KVC caseworker was always there for me. I called whether I was crying, angry, or had something good to share. She would come pick me up or bring me shoes. Just getting me out of my environment for a short period was enough of a break to keep me mentally stable. You look forward to seeing your caseworker.”
While Robin was in foster care, her adoptive mother relinquished her parental rights. And, a few years later, her adoptive father passed away.
Robin Decides to Write Her Own Future
Soon, Robin turned 18. While the Kansas Department for Children and Families and KVC Kansas have programs and professionals focused on helping young adults transition out of foster care, Robin needed more informal types of support.
Thankfully, she had people around her who cared. She dated a young man for four years, from ages 17-21, and grew close with his family. She admired her boyfriend’s mother who was a single mom and a registered nurse. She thought to herself, “I want to take care of people like her.”
Robin became a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at age 19 but felt a bit stuck. She was running with a crowd that was content with where they were in life, but that didn’t match what she wanted.
She also realized she’d been treating her trauma, depression, and ADHD with medication only, and hadn’t worked through it using therapy.
“I was about 24 or 25 when I realized I needed help,” said Robin. “I thought, I’m never gonna finish school if I can’t talk to someone about this.”
She decided to take charge of her own mental health and her future. “I had to stop using being a foster kid and aging out of the system as an excuse, and instead use it as motivation. You don’t have to be a statistic. You can make a decision every day and choose.” Through therapy, she began to heal from her past trauma. She also finished nursing school.
In 2022, Robin reached out to KVC to let us know she had achieved her dream. She graduated college and became a registered nurse!
“I love my job, I love caring for people,” said Robin. “It gives me a sense of being needed.”
“KVC helped me through this journey,” she said. “Yes, there are flaws in the system, but KVC provided guidance. That’s why I wanted to reach out and let you all know that I achieved my dream.”